Reigning Heineken Cup champions Leinster have been handed a daunting draw for next season’s competition
The Irish giants - who won the title for the third time in four years with a 42-14 victory over Ulster in May - must battle through a pool that includes the side they edged in the semi-final, Clermont-Auvergne.
Pool 5 is completed by emerging Welsh side Scarlets, who boast the talents of probable British & Irish Lions Rhys Priestland and George North as well as Aviva Premiership surprise package Exeter Chiefs.
Elsewhere, two-time champions Munster have been drawn against this season’s semi-finalists Edinburgh, Saracens and Racing Metro in Pool 1.
Four-time European champions and newly crowned Top 14 kings Toulouse were the first team drawn in Pool Two, shortly followed by double Heineken Cup winners and 2012 Aviva Premiership runners-up Leicester Tigers. The Ospreys and Treviso - who were in the same pool in the 2011/12 competition - complete the pool.
New Italian club Zebre, who have replaced Aironi, have been drawn alongside English champions Harlequins and sleeping French giants Biarritz in Pool 3.
The last two Heineken Cup finalists will be going head to head in Pool 4 with the Saints being drawn with Ulster, who also be up against recent Ravenhill departure Pedrie Wannenburg after his move to Castres. Glasgow is the other team drawn in the group.
Cardiff Blues face Toulon, Sale Sharks and Montpelier in Pool 6. The Blues last faced Toulon in their win over the French giants in the Amlin Challenge Cup final in 2010.
Pool 1: Munster, Edinburgh, Saracens, Racing Metro
Pool 2: Toulouse, Leicester, Ospreys, Benetton Treviso
Pool 3: Biarritz, Harlequins, Connacht, Zebre
Pool 4: Northampton, Ulster, Glasgow, Castres
Pool 5: Leinster, Clermont, Scarlets, Exeter
Pool 6: Cardiff Blues, Toulon, Sale, Montpellier